Above, Left, Science Hill’s David Bryant battles on a drive against Crockett’s Paul Arrowood (left) and Camara Bradley (right). Far left, Lady Hilltopper Symantha Fugate gets past Crockett’s Emma Gouge during the girls’ game match up.
By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett transfer Will Stevens discovered he couldn’t go home again, but lived well on the road.
Stevens, Science Hill’s junior guard, was razzed by the Crockett student section when he returned on Friday. But he ignored the jeers and joined Drew Morrison and Jerriah Love by scoring in double figures and the Hilltoppers pulled away for a 62-50 Big Seven Conference victory.
Crockett fell to 5-6 in the league and 12-14 overall.
Stevens (11 points) heard the gamesmanship coming from the same fans who cheered for him the previous two seasons, particularly when he was at the foul line. But he made 6 of 7 free throws and helped the ‘Toppers (10-1 in the league) go 17-for-24 at the line. Crockett, meanwhile, missed 17 of 29 free throw attempts.
Stevens said the intense atmosphere was exciting. The rivalry has been heated since Science Hill assistant John Good left to take the Crockett job in 2013, and Friday’s match up featured a technical foul for each team and what appeared to be a flagrant foul ruling after a testy tie-up.
“It was a good environment for a game,” said Stevens, who smiled when the Crockett students were mentioned. “Yea, they were (getting on me), but I’ve shot so many shots in this gym – just so much work in here – that it’s nothing new to me. It’s just more fuel to the fire.”
Neither team lacked fire. Bodies seemed to crash to the court on practically every other possession while Good and Cutlip intensely coached and offered referees advice.
Morrison, a 5-foot-10, 230-pound junior post, scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. He went on a personal 5-0 run with just over two minutes remaining that seemed to be the knockout punch.
Sophomore McHale Bright, who scored a game-high 22 points, made a pair of foul shots to get the Pioneers within 53-48 with 3:04 to go, but Morrison answered with the 5-0 run. He used a power dribble to create a three-point play for a 56-48 lead and added a stick-back to make it 58-48 with 1:32 remaining.
After Crockett center Paul Arrowood opened the second half with three straight points, Morrison scored on back-to-back possessions thanks to quality passes from Tate Wheeler, the latter of which was an interior wraparound.
Morrison’s cutting basket on an assist from Wheeler gave Science Hill the lead for good with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
“He (Morrison) is very athletic,” Good said. “He stays on balance. You don’t knock him off balance. And he’s able to make tip-ins. And we can’t keep him off the boards.
“It’s like he’s the difference in the game. I think at their place he had 12.”
Indeed, Morrison matched Love’s team-high 12 points in Science Hill’s 52-37 win against Crockett on Jan. 9. Love again had 12 points on Friday. Among his three field goals were a pull-up in the lane after a behind-the-back dribble and one of the Hilltoppers’ eight 3-pointers.
Stevens essentially hit a trey when he made three straight foul shots for a 36-31 lead midway through the third quarter after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt.
“Coming in, we all wanted to win and have an off day tomorrow,” Stevens said. “Coach took our practice jerseys, and we’re trying to get those back.”
Crockett’s loss didn’t appear to be caused by a lack of effort. They forced 19 turnovers while committing 18 (unofficially).
“They’re just a good team and it’s really us and them competing in this county,” Stevens said. “We just wanted to come in and show that we’re the better team. But they’re a good team.”
The Pioneers missed 21 of 27 field goal attempts in the second half and, again, went 12-for-29 at the foul line.
“They made plays when they had to and when we needed to step up and get a stop we couldn’t,” Good said. “Their bigs were able to get offensive rebounds and put-backs, and we weren’t able to step up there when we needed to deliver. I thought our kids competed, but … I know we missed a lot of free throws.”
The Lady Pioneers lost 63-30. Crockett’s leading scorer made one field goal. Freshman Emma Gouge led Crockett with nine points and was 7 of 10 at the foul line.
“Emma can play,” Crockett coach Marty Story said. “Her biggest weakness right now is learning to play when you’re getting hammered and you’re not getting the calls. Great kid, but she gets frustrated. And when you get frustrated you try to do more than you’re really capable of doing at that point in time, you know, because you’re blinded by all the rage because you’re not getting those calls.”
Senior point guard Kassie Lowe and sophomore combo guard Karina Palomino scored six points a piece.